I will apply Vygotsky’s theory of development to make changes to my current curriculum. Vygotsky believed that social and cultural environments affect the way people think and their cognitive development. He believes that children have a curiosity to experiment with their environment that contributes to their cognitive development, but he think the most important factor is social interaction. When kids are younger this interaction is between their families and the people close to them, but as they get older they begin to formal interactions with other adults.
Vygotsky believes that culture provides children with psychological tools that allow them to interact and explore their world and shape their cognitive development. He believes that children benefit academically from interacting with intellectual adults rather than from interacting with other children. In order for students to benefit from instruction, activities and lessons must take into consideration and meet the child’s zone of proximal development; they must be hard enough for the child’s to complete them on their own, but they should be able to complete it with support and guidance.
I will adjust my social studies curriculum to implement elements of behaviorism. Currently our district follows the Common Core State Standards, but these standards do not have components for the social studies subject in first grade. We have a document that states what children should know by the end of the school year and books for reading about the topics. I will implement Vygotsky’s theory by analyzing the students’ background and surroundings and creating meaningful lessons that follow the guidelines for the content, but incorporate elements from their culture and environment.
One of our social studies units is titled Our Community. For this unit our materials have readings about a neighborhood, a map of a community with a map key, different kinds of communities, community laws and leaders, special things we do (Chinese new year), how to be a good citizen (biographies about different historical figures). The book we were provide with does not have any reference to the students’ background, culture, city or state. I will begin by eliminating the use of the book for this unit and supplement it with readings, videos and materials about their city and state.
For the neighborhood introduction I can take the students on a walk through our neighborhood (if approved by the board of education), or I can show video clips about our neighborhood. We can then come together to create a map of the neighborhood highlighting the important places in it. By doing this I am exposing to the concepts of maps and map keys. I can also use video clips and books to introduce the students to the concept of community and help them understand the components of our community.
I can invite parents, community members, store owners and community workers to our classroom to discuss the role the play and what makes our community special. We have a very diverse community I think the children will benefit from their parents or other relatives coming to school to discuss the community where they grew up and how compare it to ours. I will introduce them to different laws and leaders, but will emphasize the leaders and laws in our town and state. I will adjust my language arts curriculum to meet the needs of my students by using meaningful texts and adjusting strategies.
Our reading curriculum and materials are aligned with the Connecticut Common Core State Standards, but the texts provided are not culturally relevant for the students. I teach Dual Language Spanish and my students are from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. Even though some of them were born in the United States, their families are from these countries and they have been immersed in their culture. The texts that come with our language arts materials are not related to their background or with the city and state they currently live in. Two of our language arts units are let’s look around and family and friends.
They skills and strategies for these units are main idea, details, summarizing, making predictions, questioning, evaluate and compare and contrast. These skills and strategies are not introduced and mastered in one unit, but they repeat throughout all the units. Let’s look around unit is about all things around us, but the readings in the students anthology books are about different parts of the country; forests, oceans, parks, etc. I will change the curriculum by providing the children with readings about places in tri-state area, specifically Connecticut. The will learn about the Long Island sound.
Universities in the State, Pleasure Beach, museums, etc. I will provide the students with readings, videos and field trips that will allow them to gain understanding about important places and how these shape who we are and make us an important part of the United States. I will also focus in the following skills and strategies; main idea, details, summarizing and questioning. The next unit is family and friends. As with the previous unit, the reading and supplemental materials do not focus in the families that my students related to, making the content less comprehensible.
For this unit I will focus my attention on the following strategies: evaluate, details, compare and contrast and making predictions. I will use culturally relevant texts to expose the students to families in different countries; including the ones their families are from. I will use video clips to show the students family tradition from those countries. I will also invite family members to share pictures and experiences about their families. By doing this I will expose the kids to different kinds of families and allow them to develop respect from one another and their similarities and differences.